Sophomore wing Justin Bassey drove down the right side of the lane, taking a couple of dribbles before trying to bank home a layup. The shot clanged off the front of the rim, but before Boston University’s defender could collect the rebound, captain Chris Egi flew in for a putback slam.
This sequence of events led BU coach Joe Jones to storm onto the floor, confronting the official over a questionable no-call for offensive goaltending. The Terriers were quickly assessed a technical, and Bassey hit the two ensuing free throws.
So went the contest between Harvard men’s basketball and Boston University on Thursday night at Lavietes Pavilion—a well-executed offense and a commanding presence in the paint for the Crimson (5-6), and frustration for the Terriers (4-7). Harvard prevailed, 74-63, to collect its second straight victory.
“Nineteen turnovers and 13-for-20 from the foul line, not very good numbers there, but a team win and an energizing kind of win for our program with all of our kids having direct contributions,” Crimson coach Tommy Amaker said.
Three Harvard scorers finished in double figures on a night on which 13 players checked in, and 11 of them tallied points. Junior forward Weisner Perez and sophomore forward Seth Towns posted 12 apiece, and Bassey added 11.
The Crimson outrebounded BU, 32-26, but the disparity in the paint was larger than the rebounding totals would show. Harvard forced its way into the paint to collect defensive and offensive rebounds, despite several height advantages for the Terriers. The Crimson outscored BU in the paint by eight points, and when it did not score inside, it was able to draw contact and get to the charity stripe.
Egi’s performance was illustrative of Harvard’s paint prowess. The senior, who made his season debut in this game, tallied eight points and four rebounds in just 18 minutes of action. Two of his four baskets were dunks, and he missed just one shot.
“His leadership on the court and the energy he brought, whether it’s him scoring or someone else scoring, he’s uplifting, and I feed off that, everyone else feeds off that, and kudos to him,” Perez said. “It was crucial tonight.”
In the opening minutes of the first half, Amaker went with some of his typical reserves as his starting five. The 11-year veteran coach penciled in Andre Chatfield, Robbie Feinberg, Zach Yoshor, Perez, and Egi at tipoff.
“I was not pleased and happy with how we were practicing, but we made a statement that the guys who deserved it at that point in time were going to start, and that was the group that did,” Amaker said. “They started the second half, and each time they started they gave us the shot in the arm, the lift we needed.”
Perez was the driving force behind the Crimson’s early lead, as he connected on his first five attempts. In his second career start, the junior finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds.
Egi and Perez, who had just 11 minutes of playing time entering the contest, were key factors in Harvard’s win. The duo missed just three of their combined 12 shots, and the rest of the Crimson followed the veterans’ lead. Harvard shot 55.3 percent from the field—45.0 percent from three-point range—and this shooting efficiency paid dividends.
Three-point shooting has been a thorn in the Crimson’s side in the early stages of this season. However, the hosts took advantage of the Terriers’ zone defense and shot 9-for-20 on three-point attempts.
“I know our staff, our assistants in particular, really put in extra work with our guys to get shots up, and it’s nice to see that that work is paying off,” Amaker said. “As I’ve said all along, we should be a better shooting team than we displayed previously.”
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